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Ukraine court says some anti-corruption laws are unconstitutional

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine’s constitutional court has ruled that some anti-corruption legislation is unconstitutional and said it sees the punishment for putting false information on officials’ asset declaration forms as excessive.

Anti-corruption campaigners said the move was a setback in the fight against graft in the country.

The court declared it illegal to hold officials criminally liable for false information in their asset declarations, and it struck down some of the most essential powers of the key anti-corruption body NAZK.

“The Constitutional Court of Ukraine considers that the establishment of criminal liability for the declaration of knowingly false information ... is an excessive punishment for committing these offences,” the court said in a statement on its ruling.

NAZK loses the right to check the accuracy of information in the declarations of officials as well as to carry out inspections at state bodies. Free public access to officials’ declarations was also made illegal.

“Ukraine’s Constitutional Court has approved the whim of some lawmakers and canceled most of the anti-corruption reform,” Transparency International said in a statement.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, commenting on the ruling which was made on Tuesday but published in full on Wednesday, said Ukraine’s anti-corruption fight would remain on track.

The ruling could also affect the reforms outlined under a $5 billion International Monetary Fund deal. Zelenskiy’s government secured a new $5 billion loan deal with the IMF in June to fight a sharp economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

But the IMF has held back some of the money due to concerns over Ukraine’s performance in tackling corruption and implementing reforms.

Reporting by Natalia Zinets and Pavel Polityuk; writing by Matthias Williams and Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Catherine Evans and Hugh Lawson